On Oct. 28, The Facebook Company announced its rebrand to Meta. This change wouldn’t apply to the social media website itself — that’s still Facebook — but to the parent company that owns Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and a number of other technology brands.
In response to the rebrand, a number of worried Facebook users have shared a chain message claiming there is a “new Facebook/Meta rule starts tomorrow where they can use your photos.” It says the user is imposing their “reservation of rights” under UCC 1-207 and 1-308 to deny Facebook/Meta permission to disclose, copy or distribute the user’s photos, information or messages. The chain message urges users to copy the message and post it to their own timelines.
A viewer asked VERIFY to find out if the message is accurate.
Can a post to your profile stop Facebook/Meta from collecting and sharing your data?
No, a post to your profile will not stop Facebook or any other social media service from collecting and sharing your data as described in the terms of service.
WHAT WE FOUND
Variations of this chain message resurface every few years, especially after Facebook makes some kind of significant change. A Mashable article from 2012 shows that a similar message circulated around Facebook nearly a decade ago, and Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a nonprofit digital civil liberties organization, documented similar messages in 2015 and 2019.
The legal codes referenced in the chain posts can’t be used in the way the posts claim. UCC 1-207 is now UCC 1-308, which allows a party to reserve their rights when signing a contract. The law is commonly misinterpreted, but is typically negotiated between the two parties making the contract. It must be invoked when the agreement is made and signed, and cannot be invoked through a social media post or after the agreement has already been made.
By the time a Facebook user can share a post to their timeline or profile, they’ve already signed an agreement — the Facebook Terms of Service and Data Policy. These terms outline what data Facebook collects from users, how it collects that data and what it does with that data. Facebook requires all users to agree to these terms, granting permission for Facebook to collect and use the user’s data, to create an account and use the website.
Facebook says it has not made any change to its terms of service or its data policy since the rebrand to Meta.
“The Facebook company is now Meta,” says a notice currently at the top of both the terms of service page and the data policy page. “While our company name is changing, we are continuing to offer the same products, including the Facebook app from Meta. Our Data Policy and Terms of Service remain in effect, and this name change does not affect how we use or share data.”
Facebook cannot make unannounced changes to these policies or handle data differently than these policies describe, without facing punishment from government regulators across the globe, including the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The FTC has charged Facebook for these violations before, fining the social media giant $5 billion and imposing new privacy restrictions on it in 2019. The FTC said Facebook used “deceptive disclosures and settings to undermine users’ privacy preferences” to violate a 2012 FTC order. That 2012 order “prohibited Facebook from making misrepresentations about the privacy or security of consumers’ personal information, and the extent to which it shares personal information.”